Today I went to Hope orphanage with Lea. Funmi, my Nigerian colleague and friend drove me in his car to the market stalls in Yoruba Road where we bought two huge bags of rice. My school in England had raised some money and Sue and I added to this so that we were able to buy the rice for 14,000N. There was quite a lot of haggling but we got the best price. Funmi then drove Lea and I to the orphanage which is down the road they are resurfacing so it was quite bumpy in places.
The owner of the orphanage, Mrs Omolehin (she said I can call her Christie) told us she started the orphanage 4 years ago. They have now moved out of the two rooms where I first visited and have bought the land and buildings where the new orphanage is. They had renovated one of the buildings and hope to do more later. She told Lea that she wants to model the orphanage on the SOS model where the children live in family groups with a helper ‘mother’. The state do nothing to help her and in fact she had to pay a registration fee to set up the orphanage-nobody comes to check her work with the children either. She relies entirely on donations to pay her staff, the children’s school fees (which are considerable as they go to a private school because the public school is awful), their uniforms, clothes, food, etc. Her husband is a pastor and helps with money from his church. We spoke to him and he is very involved in a Hope mission in Tanzania.
So we drew up in front of the orphanage and Funmi wrestled with the bags of rice while we staggered in with the suitcase and rucksack full of clothes and toys collected by my school and friends in the UK. At first the children were a bit scared but when they saw all the toys they were very excited and ran round the room playing with them. The pictures tell the story!!!
The older girl, Bose, is quite traumatised but realised the bag was just for her. Christie told us some very sad stories about the children. Children are abandoned because they are the result of rapes, because the mother is very young, because the mother was mentally retarded or in one case the baby was found on a rubbish dump.
The staff at the orphanage are very kind and Christie lives in the orphanage with the children. Even the guard was playing with the children.
The babies are now about four months and absolutely beautiful. Gift has amazing big expressive eyes and Abigail is so pretty. I held them in my arms for ages and did not want to give them back. The boys soon forgot their nervousness and enjoyed playing with Lea and the puppet-this was a real hit . At first some of the children just wanted to grab as many toys as they could but soon settled down to clutching the ones they had chosen. It was great seeing them playing with them. They were so pleased with them! Thank you to everyone who helped me with this! The soft blankets were also well received and will be useful when it is cooler.
Christie said she really needs Pampers nappies and books for the children to read after school. Maybe when I next go home I can do a bit of fundraising and get some money to buy those things here as there is very little difference in the price and books would be very heavy to carry. So if any of my friends are reading this and want to have a coffee fundraising morning......
It was a humbling experience seeing them so grateful and made me want to do more. The place is very basic. They have just got a small table for the children to sit at but there are no soft chairs or big toys.
Just before we left a monkey raced into the room! Most of the children were scared of him except Peter who chased after him. Eventually the guard got him out-he belonged to someone who lived nearby.
The toys and clothes I gave to the children who spend most of their day in the tin shack with their mother selling motor oil have been well received too. They called me over this morning to show me that they were wearing the clothes and love the dolls.
When I think of some of the things I used to spend my money on in the UK.................
Can't seem to downlaod the photos-internet problems will try next time!!!